Chapter 13: A Different Kind of Bait

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“We should go after her,” Seamus said.

Iain looked at him. “What? No. Why would we do that?”

“Well for one she’s our friend,” the bard said. “For another I think she has the map for whatever you all are supposedly looking for.”

“Oh, right, that,” the paladin said. “I’d almost forgotten about that.”

“But wasn’t it your holy quest in the first place?” Iain asked.

Ailbhe waved her hand in a disinterested way. “Mostly it was an excuse to get away from those stuffy nuns.”

Iain facepalmed. “I should have know. How the hell are you a paladin in the first place?”

“Let’s talk about that some other time,” the somehow paladin said. “Right now we need to go save my map. I mean Ciardhe.”

It took them a good half day to track down the dragon. For something so large, it was surprisingly hard to find. Seamus finally spotted it in a narrow ravine that led up towards the mountain.

“Over here!” he called, heading towards it. “I hear it grunting and snorting. I think Ciardhe’s putting up a fi-Oh my god!” His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.

Ailbhe and Iain, who had been walking over, broke into a run. The berserker put a hand over Seamus’s eyes and pulled him away while Ailbhe confirmed the worst.

“Damn it, Ciardhe, a demon is one thing, but a dragon?” She turned and walked over to Iain, shaking her head.

“Is she..?” he asked.

The paladin nodded. “Not sure how it’s possible, but she is.”

“It’s Ciardhe, anything in that area is possible. And I think she broke Seamus.” He waved his hand in front of the bard’s face but got no response.

Ailbhe made a face. “Let’s go make camp somewhere. If he doesn’t get better after an hour or so we’ll come up with a plan B.”

They made a fire in a clearing about a mile from the dragon’s location. There was a stream nearby and from this Ailbhe got water for soup and coffee. Iain had been hauling most of their gear from where the wizard dropped them, and pulled rations and a percolator from his enormous pack. When the food was ready, the two of them ate. Seamus never moved.

“You know, I’m starting to worry about him,” the paladin said as she poured herself another cup of coffee. “Normally he’d want to add all kinds of weird spices to anything we made.”

“Just be glad he didn’t,” Iain said. “The food tastes better this way.”

They continued to sit in silence for a few more minutes before Ailbhe sighed. “I don’t even know how we would fix him.”

“We could try drugging him with some of Ciardhe’s tea,” Iain suggested.

“Yeah, but what would fix ‘saw dragon porn’?” she asked.

He shrugged and started rummaging through the giant pack again. “I don’t know, but with all the people that do her, she’s got to have something for the ones she traumatizes.” He pulled out a cotton bag and upended its contents onto the ground. Small bags with images and words painted onto them scattered everywhere. Ailbhe started grabbing them and reading off the titles.

“Let’s see. This one’s called ‘Drunk as a Skunk Tea: One pinch of this in any alcoholic beverage will make the drinker inebriated enough to want to do you.”

Iain snorted ad picked up another. “Genital Enlargement Tea. Not recommended for use by women.”

“Fire breathing…tea?” she said, frowning at a small bottle.

“You sure that’s a tea?” Iain asked.

“It looks like something was scraped off the glass and the word tea was written in.”

Iain facepalmed. “Only Ciardhe would buy fake tea.”

“Got another one here. This one’s just got a bunch of stick figures on it. I think they, might be dancing or something,” the paladin said.

“Great, this one doesn’t even have that,” he said. “There are just a bunch of weird symbols.”

Ailbhe sighed and looked at the collection of bags and packets on the ground in front of them. “Screw it. Just gather anything you think looks likely and throw it into the pot. Hopefully one of them will work.”

Iain looked skeptical, but decided not to question. Instead he chucked herbs into the water filled pot Ailbhe had on the fire. A purple haze rolled out of the water as the myriad of teas steeped. It rolled over the edge and down to the fire where it mingled with the flames and made them turn a rainbow of colors.

“That..doesn’t look right,” Iain said, frowning.

“It’ll be fine,” the paladin said, scooping out a cup full. “Just don’t drink it. Or let it touch you’re skin.”

“Ailbhe.”

“I don’t think it’ll poison him,” she continued, putting the cup to his lips. “And even if it does I can heal him.”

“You’re not listening to me,” the berserker said. “I something goes wrong, I’m not helping fix it.”

“Too late now,” she said. “I’m sure it’ll be fine. I got most of it into his mouth, but some dribbled off onto his shirt.”

Seamus blinked several time, confused, before slinking over to Iain and cuddling up to him.

“That’s weird. He’s acting like you do when you’re recovering after you’ve gone ‘serky,” she said.

The bard kissed Iain on the cheek.

“Please tell me I’ve never done that,” he said, horrified.

“No, you haven’t,” she said, dumping out the pot. She took the percolator and poured the coffee into the pot, refilling it with fresh water before dropping two coffee beans into it. “This should fix him. He kissed me the last time he had it.”

“He did what?” he asked.

“Kissed me. That’s okay, I kissed you,” she said.

“The Coffee of Macho makes people straight?” Iain asked as Seamus nuzzled his neck.

Ailbhe frowned. “Maybe. No, wait, you kissed Seamus. I guess it doesn’t.”

“You said I hadn’t done that before!”

“Sorry, I forgot,” she said. “That night is all a little hazy. Anyway the point is that there was kissing done, but no one got kissed by who they wanted.”

“No, the point is that the coffee makes you kiss people you normally wouldn’t and isn’t going to fix Seamus,” he said. The bard kissed his jaw.

“He’s doing that anyway,” she said, “So it’s not like it can do any harm.”

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